Namibia: Stressful Job but Worth It - Schlettwein

Former finance minister Calle Schlettwein said the last five years were probably the most stressful years in his career but it was worth it.

President Hage Geingob replaced Schlettwein with Bank of Namibia governor Ipumbu Shiimi as finance minister as part of his new Cabinet.

Other new appointments include Albert Kawana as fisheries minister, Law Reform and Development Commission chairperson Yvonne Dausab as justice minister while Nudo's Ester Muinjangue was appointed deputy minister of health.

Peter Hafeni Vilho is named as defence minister deputised by Hilma Nicanor.

The Namibian understands that the Presidency is aware of a possible public backlash in removing Schlettwein.

Schlettwein is credited for cutting government spending and blocking alleged corrupt deals at treasury, moves that made him unpopular among his fellow Cabinet ministers.

"The last five years probably were the most stressful for me in my career but it was not without satisfaction," Schlettwein told The Namibian yesterday after the announcement by the president.

He believes that he and his team at finance met their targets such as the consolidation of the country's economy.

"I want to thank my staff, everybody who worked with me and who supported our efforts. If it was stressful for me then I can just imagine how they [finance officials] coped. They deserve thanks," Schlettwein said.

He also thanked the taxpayers for pulling through the tough economic cuts over the past five years.

Schlettwein did not comment on whether he was surprised by his removal, insisting that it was the president's prerogative to make appointments.

"If the president feels that I will be better at agriculture then I support him. I have no regrets or hard feelings on the new appointment. I feel privileged to have worked at the finance ministry. I am now ready to tackle the next challenge," he said.

Schlettwein added: "It is a new challenge and a big responsibility. I hope I will deliver".

He will be deputised by Anna Shiweda at the agriculture ministry.

NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN

The new finance minister will not have a deputy minister.

Shiimi was allegedly picked by Geingob's team for his strength in macroeconomics. Shiimi declined to comment when approached for comment.

"It is important for us Namibians to give the president a chance to put together his Cabinet. We should therefore avoid speculations," Shiimi told The Namibian yesterday.

According to his profile on the Bank of Namibia website, Shiimi - an economist - worked at the central bank since 1995. He served as assistant governor from 2006 to 2010, when he took over as Bank of Namibia governor.

Sources admitted that Schlettwein who was appointed in 2015 "did a good and necessary job at finance". The president - who was allegedly reluctant to remove Schlettwein - wants him to fix "the mess" at agriculture and land reform.

BOOTED OUT

Former trade minister Tjekero Tweya, former defence minister Penda ya Ndakolo, ex-agriculture minister Alpheus !Naruseb and former economic planning minister Obeth Kandjoze are not part of the new Cabinet. Poverty eradication minister Zephania Kameeta is also out of Cabinet.

!Naruseb and Kandjoze face separate investigations by the Anti-Corruption Commission over corruption allegations at ministries they led.

Geingob said last year that he asked the ACC to investigate !Naruseb, Kandjoze, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala and ex-fisheries minister Bernhard Esau.

The Namibian has since 2015 reported how !Naruseb oversaw a works and transport ministry that faced allegations of rife corruption, including the N$7 billion airport tender and the fraud unearthed at the Namibia Airports Company.

Kandjoze had a controversial tenure at the energy ministry, where there were allegations of corruption and cronyism.

Incidents such as the ugly power struggle at the National Petroleum Corporation and alleged corruption at Namib Desert Diamonds (Namdia) partly implicated him. He was moved to the national planning portfolio in 2018.

He has denied any wrongdoing in the past.

OTHER APPOINTMENTS

International relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, works and transport minister John Mutorwa, public enterprise minister Leon Jooste retained their positions.

Veikko Nekundi will deputise Mutorwa at the transport ministry.

Pohamba Shifeta will is the environment, forestry and tourism minister. Shifeta was one of the most critical voices against the exploitation of timber.

Health minister Kalumbi Shangula and energy minister Tom Alweendo are set to retain their positions.

Anna Nghipondoka was named as the education, arts and culture minister, deputised by Faustina Caley.

Itah Kandjii- Murangi remains the higher education minister. Lucia Iipumbu is the new industrialisation minister, deputised by former Rundu mayor Verna Sinimbo.

Agnes Tjongarero is the new sports minister, deputised by Emma Kantema-Gaomas who served as executive director at the same ministry.

Peya Mushelenga is the new information minister and he will be deputised by 23-year-old Emma Theofelus. Erastus Utoni will head the urban and rural development ministry, deputised by Derek Klazen.

Former land reform minister Utoni Nujoma is demoted to the labour minister portfolio. He will be deputised by Hafeni Ndemula.

Frans Kapofi will continue as home affairs minister, deputised by former safety and security minister Daniel Kashikola.

The Presidency will have: Christine /Hoebes as minister in the presidency and Doreen Sioka as minister of gender and poverty eradication.

Sioka is deputised by Bernadette Jagger, Alexia Manombe-Ncube (disability affairs) and Royal /Ui/o/oo (marginalised communities).

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